Why Do Dogs Need A Schedule?
It’s the key to crushing it in dog training 📝🐶💪
If you don’t already have a daily schedule for your dog, it’s time to think about implementing one.
Not only do dogs love having that structure and those expectations in place, but it’ll also help you be much more successful in dog training.
While it might be a little more work in the beginning, it’s important to develop a daily routine for your pup because, just like humans, dogs thrive off of clarity and consistency.
There isn’t a “quick fix” or a “short cut” to get where you want to be with your dog. It’ll take some hard work, strategy and — you guessed it — a schedule.
The Dodo spoke to Natalie Dobkins, training director at Canine Performance, and Deborah Dobson, a dog behaviorist in Henderson, North Carolina, to learn more about dogs and routines.
Do dogs like routine?
When it comes to whether or not your dog will actually like having a routine, there’s no doubt she absolutely will. “Dogs appreciate and feel more relaxed having a daily routine — especially adopted dogs, who may well not have had much they could rely on before they were helped,” Dobson told The Dodo.
Ultimately, your daily habits and routine are going to impact your dog’s behavior and habits.
“If you want your dog’s behaviors to improve and develop as quickly as possible, you have to practice it daily through a lifestyle change to see lasting results with your dog’s training,” Dobkins told The Dodo. “Developing a daily routine with your dog is the best way to ensure that you turn intentional training into a long-lasting habit.”
Benefits to having a schedule for your dog include:
What should my dog’s schedule look like?
No one can give you an answer as to what exactly your routine should look like with your dog — because it’ll depend on your personal daily routine combined with what’s best for your individual pup. Your daily schedule can include things like all mealtimes, bedtime, walks, grooming, training sessions, outdoor playtime, etc.
But keep in mind that you don’t want to become TOO rigid — for example, your dog should know she’ll eat at roughly the same time each morning, but it doesn’t need to be at 7 a.m. on the dot every single day. This way she’ll know what to expect, but she won’t get anxious whenever there’s a slight schedule change.
“For dogs, I suggest a daily routine that includes some variety,” Dobson said. “In other words, breakfast is at 7 a.m., but before that, the dog will have enjoyed a 45+ minute walk with their human, and that morning walk is different each day or at least every couple of days. Dinner is around 6 and may be followed by playtime or perhaps another walk.”
Example of a good dog schedule:
7–7:45 a.m.: Wake up and take your dog out for a morning walk for the chance to potty.
8–8:30 a.m.: Breakfast and a short training session
9–9:30 a.m.: Take her out to go potty.
10–12 p.m.: Nap time (or crate time if she’s a puppy)
12–12:30 p.m.: Potty break and a quick afternoon walk
1–4 p.m.: Nap time (or crate time if she’s a puppy)
4–5 p.m.: Training session, playing and bonding time
5–5:45 p.m.: Potty break
6:30–7 p.m.: Dinner
7:30–7:45 p.m.: Potty break
8 p.m. on: Hang out
Before bed: Potty break
Other tips for creating your dog’s schedule
Dobkins also had some other suggestions that could help you create your dog's schedule.
“We recommend that your routine includes, at minimum, one structured walk per day and [one] hand-feeding session, where you can use your dog's regular meal as an opportunity to train,” Dobkins said.
What’s a structured walk? These are walks that you go on where your main objective is to have your dog walk calmly on a loose leash — no pulling, no tugging and no dragging you around to sniff that one tree.
Structured walks are a great opportunity to train your dog and also boost her confidence while she does what’s expected of her — just make sure to have plenty of yummy treats to reward her with.
What’s a hand-feeding session? This just means that you’re using your pup’s dry kibble from one of her meals as an opportunity to train. Using her kibble as her “treat” when doing indoor or outdoor training gives you a chance to bond and give your dog plenty of mental enrichment (without expanding her waistline).
While you develop your dog’s routine, remember that all dogs learn and develop at different paces. “Some of them will take longer to learn certain skills and will need more time being consistent than others,” Dobkins said.
Whatever it may be, don’t compare your dog’s journey with another pup’s — your dog’s journey is special, just like she is, and she might need some extra time to get up to speed with her new routine.
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